Green Travel Dead? Not So Fast
by Kevin Doyle
Can you hear it? Chris Elliott is clanging the death knell of green travel in a recent column. His postmortem is based on a recent YPartnership survey of travelers that found, to quote Chris, that "most of them now say they're unwilling to pay a premium for being green." I'm not taking issue with the facts here--just with the spin. Yes, a slight majority of those polled (53 percent) said they're not willing to pay extra to support hotels, airlines or other travel companies in their green endeavors. But that means nearly half of the travelers surveyed said that they would be willing to pay more. Not only that, but the majority of them said they would pay up to a 9 percent premium. This, during the worst economic downturn in more than 70 years, doesn't portend the death of green travel; on the contrary, it's proof that preserving the planet is still more important than saving a buck to nearly half the people who travel. Which means it's good business.
To be fair, the point Chris is making is a good one: Environmental stewardship is something we should not only expect, but also demand from travel companies. It should be as integral a part of a business as the bottom line, not some facile, feeble, or faux "environmental" effort (reusing towels and linens comes to mind) cooked up by a public relations department to win market share. One way to make that day dawn sooner rather than later is to choose companies with a demonstrated commitment to sustainable practices. A good place to start is with our annual World Savers Awards and with the World Travel and Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, which just announced its 2009 nominations yesterday. Green travel isn't dead, and as long as we make that clear to travel companies through the choices we make, it never will be.
Kevin Doyle is the News Editor for Condé Nast Traveler.